The ‘Great Wall’ of Holly Beach
Editor’s note: This guest post by Paul Conover from Lafayette was originally posted on LABird, a bulletin board for Louisiana birding enthusiasts. He was appalled to discover a coastal wall under construction in Cameron Parish. After reading this post you may agree with me that the curious CPRA logo (that I modified slightly below) now makes sense – if you like the idea of walling off the delta from the gulf.
by Paul Conover
I went on a non-birding trip to Johnsons Bayou today (June 26). As we paralleled Holly Beach, I was surprised to see that a wall had been erected between the highway and the beach. The wall is constructed of cloth boxes about 3′ x 3′ wide x 4′ tall (estimate) that are interlocked.
The boxes are open at the top, and big machines are scraping up the sand of the beach and filling in the boxes. I saw miles of this wall.
Between Holly Beach and the Ferry landing, where the Gulf is only a few dozen yards south of the road, in some places the scrapers had scooped up all of the beach vegetation along with the sand. I’m sure that more than a few beach nesting birds contributed eggs or young to the contents of the boxes.
I saw some Corps of Engineers vehicles and some with NIPPON OIL logos. I also saw a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) trailer, with ATVs checking out the scene.
I have no idea whose bright idea this is, but it’s a major Charlie Foxtrot. It seems like an idea a little kid in a big chair thought up with a box of crayons.
I don’t know what this wall is supposed to accomplish but I assume that it’s some politician’s way of ‘doing something.’ Maybe time will prove me wrong, but at this point I’m willing to say that whoever is behind this wall is a world class idiot.
Oh, yeah, and I would bet that it’s costing a ton. I don’t know what’s going on but I suspect that coastal experts were left out to avoid unpopular views that someone didn’t want to hear.
The stretch from Holly Beach to the ferry is being walled off, along with the marshes behind it. Gulf water overtops the road into the marsh to some extent during times of high south winds and to a major extent during tropical storm and hurricane surges.
Having seen camps, vehicles and even cement slabs tossed around like toys by Hurricanes Rita and Ike I have to wonder if the people who greenlighted this project know something miraculous about these green and beige sandboxes that have escaped my eye. Normandy isn’t the appropriate analogy here the Maginot Line is. This wall will do its job…until it has to!
I don’t know what entity is responsible for this ineffective, expensive and destructive project. When our state and federal administrations represent different parties, as during Katrina and now for “Spill, Baby, Spill,” Louisianans want to see the label before they’ll tell you whether they like something.
I remember an episode of Adam 12 where Reed and McCoy saved some hapless hippie’s life. The stoner wakes up telling them that firemen are the greatest. When the heroes inform him that they’re actually cops, not firemen, he angrily responds, “Fuzz. Lousy, stinkin’ fuzz.”
Someone on a recent KPLC-TV news broadcast said that the Holly Beach wall is better than what the feds have done. Just for fun, it would have been interesting to tell him that the wall is a federal project to see whether he would he have changed his tune to, “Feds. Lousy, stinkin’ feds,” or “What good is that stupid wall?”
In my earlier post (above) I wondered if our governor was involved in this project not for political axe-grinding but because of the presence of the National Guard. I have neither an ass nor an elephant in this race. I’m an Independent and I review issues on a case-by-case basis.
I don’t care which party makes a bonehead move. Every major player involved in this fiasco–federal, state, and most importantly, BP–has been less than honest and less than effective. Seeing the National Guard on the beach, I wondered whether the wall was a knee-jerk reaction to Governor Jindal having been caught assigning thumb-twiddling duty to 5,000 National Guardsmen assigned to clean up the spill.
If I’d seen Obama filling in the sand wall yesterday, I would’ve booed him. If I’d seen my own mom driving the earth-mover, I’d have given her hell, too. When someone does something stupid, don’t ask what party they belong to.
No matter who is behind this project, it is NOT better than doing nothing. It’s doing something so someone can claim credit, an eight mile long campaign poster.
Once the election is over, who will pick the poster up? Most importantly, if the ‘campaign poster’ is extended through Rutherford Beach, what will happen to the hundreds of Least Tern chicks, dozens of Wilson’s Plover chicks, Willet chicks, etc? Is it reasonable to wipe them all out to keep them from being wiped out?
Editor’s note: Another birding enthusiast forwarded this June 20 article by Marilyn Monroe in the Leesville Daily Leader that provides important information about the Great Wall of Holly Beach – without mentioning how (or if) the project is being coordinated by the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration (OCPR).
Edited by Len Bahr, PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org)